At the time of writing, Thursday evening’s fixtures – particularly Geraldines vs Carew Park and Ballynanty Rovers vs Pike Rovers – had yet to be played. Consequently, we can’t be sure who’ll be on top of the Limerick Premier Division table when Sunday’s crucial tie between the two league leaders kicks off, but we do know that the fixture will have a huge bearing on which side ends the season as league champions.
Pike Rovers have yet more silverware put away after they beat Clonmel Celtic in last Sunday’s Munster Junior Cup final, a match that evolved into a typical “game of two halves” where Pike dominated the first half of the game but were reduced to holding on in the latter stages as the Tipperary side pushed hard for an equaliser. Still, any success energises a club and they will have plenty of momentum on their side on Sunday, even if they’re likely to be a little drained.
Fatigue is definitely a factor at this stage of the season for all clubs and for teams like Pike and Carew that have gone deep into a lot of cup competitions, it would be understandable if the last few minutes of what is surely to be a keenly fought contest will turn into a case of the survival of the fittest.
In such encounters, home advantage will play a part and that’s why Carew have been installed as the 13/10 favourites by Paddy Power for this tie, while 5/2 is on offer about the draw and Pike Rovers are a 7/5 chance. That’s as tight as betting ever gets for any fixture of this magnitude and while you’d have gone broke backing draws in games involving these two teams this season, this could be the time to break that trend and take the 5/2 on offer. Presuming both sides pick up wins on Thursday, Carew will be acutely aware that while a draw won’t guarantee them the league title by any stretch of the imagination, it will leave them in a situation where closing out with victories against Wembley and Corbally would be enough to secure the title.
When legs get tired in the closing stages, Carew will be the team most likely to err on the side of caution and protect a level match, rather than surging forward and chasing a win. Of course that all depends on the sides getting similar results on Thursday, and the match price of 5/2 being retained after those midweek games, but if it is, then that would be the shrewd selection this week.
Those who want a bigger price would be well advised to double it up with the 1/2 that Powers are offering about Limerick beating Waterford United in the EA Sports Cup on Monday. These sides were close rivals all last year but Waterford have hit a serious slump and last Friday’s 2-1 reverse against Mervue United was just the latest in a series of poor showings that has left them 6th out of eight teams in the first division. Limerick have accumulated a lot of draws this year and obviously a draw is no use to us here, but they’ve picked up some great wins in their most recent outings and their three league defeats have come against the top three teams in the table, and all by narrow margins. Limerick have become a tough team to beat this season and it would be a huge surprise if they weren’t far to good for Waterford, who have a lot of problems right now and already look long odds on to spend another season in the lower tier of Irish soccer.